First, not all atheists have any desire at all to argue against theists. In fact, I assume that the vast majority of them aren’t really all that concerned about what you believe. Second, arguing against someone who believes differently then they do, may be just as much about learning to affirm their own beliefs, as it is about attacking yours. We strengthen our beliefs when we’re forced to defend them.
Lastly, what motivates ardent atheists to argue against theists, isn’t the theists’ God, it’s the theists’ arrogance. It’s the same thing that motivates ardent conservatives to argue against ardent liberals. Any time one side feels excessively and vocally certain that they’re right, and just as certain that you’re wrong, then they’re going to get push back from the opposition. It’s just simple human nature.
If you’re fervent in defense of your beliefs, then they’re going to be just as fervent in defense of theirs. And if you add any sense of self-righteousness to the mix it only makes it worse.
So if you’re going to argue against an atheist, try to be less confrontational. Try to be less holier-than-thou. Try to be patient. And for gosh sakes, try not to assume that the other person is simply being irrational. Nobody likes to have their beliefs dismissed as if they’re the assumptions of a fool.
I do think that one of the reasons we have this life is to give us time to develop and question our relationship with the divine.
There is a story I like to tell with some frequency as it reflects the ever presence of God in our life - probing, proding and nugding us to know Him.
A dear friend of mine who I met in university was an ardent atheist. As fellow PhD. students we met weekly at the Grad Club on campus to have a pint or two and reflect on what was going on in the world of politics. This was back in the mid-90’s.
Though adament that she did not believe in God she would ask me questions - often to test my faith and trip me up.
Fast forward 25 years that ardent atheist is now in seminary studying to be a priest.
Our friendship has endured and I have been blessed by seeing a transformation over many years. This friend of mine credit me for planting the seed. My conviction and gentle encouragement (and prayers that they never knew of) inspired them to a) become a convicted Christian and b) enter the seminary this year.
In my previous post, I had to make a conscious decision not to use the word Catholics, choosing instead to use the word theists. I was truly concerned that if I even inferred that Catholics were arrogant it would indeed get me suspended. I find it a sad testament to CAF that I have to choose my words so carefully.
Well you would be being uncharitable towards an entire population of Christians. Being uncharitable is a violation of the rules. If you have such trouble being civil, maybe being CAF is not the best place for you?
That’s sweet. You seem to think that teaching occurs in schools today.
I’m genuinely curious about this one. Which prominent theist has claimed that unbelief in God entails that that person “lacks morals” (whatever might be meant by that phrase)?
My parish definitely should have availed itself of these mysterious taxpayer monies in its most recent capital campaign—would have been kind to my wallet.
It might make you “strange and unusual” like Winona Ryder’s character in Beetlejuice. But unfit? There are many members of the US House that claim no religious affiliation (unstated). There are many Jewish members, a few Muslims, a few Hindus, one Buddhist and several Mormons and Unitarians. I imagine there’s room for “nones” too. And I doubt I’m alone in this opinion.
Lawd, help us…
Thankfully, no rational adult with a properly functioning conscience believes in the Easter bunny.
For atheists and theists we have asymmetry (theists are described as arrogant), for conservatives and liberals we have symmetry (both are described as ardent).
Well, when we see something like that, we should ask if it is not the other way around…
Could it be that sometimes it is the atheists who are arrogant? Could it be that this fact would explain their militancy to some extent?
After all, a Psalm says: “The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God,” (Psalm 14:1). And it looks like many atheists really do not like the idea that they might be fools in some important ways.
Not to mention that many of their arguments (as opposed to our arguments) rely on them not being fools in any relevant way. For example: “There is no evidence for God.” is supported by supposed competence of the one making such judgement. If he had to consider a possibility that he might be a fool is a relevant way, what would be left of his argument?
And vice versa, it is not all that easy to avoid a conclusion that the one who made the judgement (and did that so confidently) is a fool in some relevant way, if the judgement is wrong. And if someone really doesn’t like the idea of being a fool, that is precisely what he is likely to notice.
So, we should not be surprised if they react angrily.
We also should not care much. By itself, that is not a sign of us doing anything wrong.
That, by the way, would not be arrogance nor pride.
Pride would be claiming it is impossible that one is a fool (in a relevant way), not claiming it is impossible one is wrong (in a relevant way).
To cite Chesterton, “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.” (from “The Catholic Church and Conversion”).
There are two kind of atheists in my experience: the preachy kind, always trying to persuade people to become atheists, even going to the extreme measure of posting on CAF and the indifferent kind. I actually have a lot of respect for the indifferent kind, they say why bother? the end for all is nothing after death so let them believe whatever they want and focus on enjoying life… to me, that position is the most consistent with atheism.
Hands up all those who would like Christianity taught in Public Schools. OK, hands down. Carried.
Literally a few minutes ago in another thread I implied that if one is reading philosophical works then one shouldn’t necessarily exclude those who weren’t believers to get a more varied philosophical viewpoint and was told that I was an idiot for doing so. And I have lost count of the times in umpteen posts where people have claimed that atheists have no possible grounds for acting morally. So I can apparently do what I want. I really can’t believe you haven’t seen any of them.
In 2018 tax payers money was used to put ‘In God We Trust’ in all schools in Tennessee. South Dakota and Louisiana did that in 2019. And this year Oklahoma used tax dollars to do the same for all public buildings. And Mississipians will be paying to have all their flags changed to include the phrase.
Illogical things? Like standing outside servicemen’s funerals and shouting that God hates fags? Like wanting to teach creationism in science classes? Which will also count as an example for the last point as well. Feel free to join in one of the anti-evolutionary threads in this form if you want to discuss some Catholic views on this matter.
I think the US is different in this regard from many other countries.
I saw a senior CNN reporter ask a victim of a natural disaster: ‘do you thank God?’ for her survival. She said ‘I’m an atheist’. I can’t think of another democratic country (Poland?) where that might happen. The intrusion of religion into public life in the US - prayers, constant 'God Bless America’s, God on money, statues of the ten commandments - all these things are unknown elsewhere. Also in most of the English-speaking world most people now have no religion or are only very loosely tied to their ‘census’ religion.
In most countries being an atheist, or at least not caring much about religion is the norm. The ‘angry atheists’ people love to criticise are a reaction to religious fundamentalism in the United States and in Islamic countries.
When you have places where people suggest, seriously, teaching creationism, or where a politician has no chance of success without professing a belief in god(s) you will see atheists getting a bit cross. But most atheists (unlike me) just don’t think about religion.
Well you know me well through my posts and our exchanges and I don’t fit either category. I don’t try to persuade people to become atheists. I like that there are theists because they help me understand how people come to develop beliefs. All my atheists friends and family are of no use at all for that purpose.